Nahla – ex-battery hen – Rescued 2012
Name means Drink of Water
Over the coming weeks, I am going to share the stories of some of the hens who became my ‘henspiration’ for Amanda the Teen Activist – Feathers & Freedom. One of my favourite characters to create was Nahla the chicken. Nahla is based on a real life hen who was rescued from a battery farm back in October 2012.
We had already rescued a number of hens from their tiny, crowded cages when we noticed a little hen hunched on the floor. She was thin and her eyes were almost closed.
Her feet were caked in something brown and disgusting and I could feel the jut of her keel bone in her chest. She must have been without food or water for some time.
We brought Nahla home and placed her gently onto her new straw bed. As soon as I splashed my fingers in her water bowl she lifted her legs high and took a step into the bowl. As she stood in the water she dipped her head and drank. Once she started drinking it was clear she did not want to stop. Water, such a basic right, had been withheld from her and now she was making the most of every sip. Her eyes brightened as she drunk and she did not lift her head for more than a second. I think she was afraid we may take the bowl away.
When Nahla was rescued she looked so ill that I wasn’t sure if she would make it, but she did make it. Not only that but she flourished. It didn’t take Nahla long to begin to trust humans, but one thing was for sure, she never wanted to be far from her water bowl. She would panic if she too many steps away from it for too long.
Nahla’s slightly narrow eyes made her look as if she knew more than I did. She may well have done. She certainly experienced more suffering than I ever have. Her eyes made her instantly recognisable to me, even once she had grown back her beautiful, orange feathers.
Please remember that although Feathers & Freedom is a work of fiction, the egg farm conditions described in the book are real. Millions of hens really are suffering in farms at this very moment and they really will go to slaughter when they are no longer ‘of use’ to the farmers. We need to do everything we can to help them… after all if we don’t help them who will?